The Calf Conundrum

Some people are born into money. Some people are born with amazing intellect. Others are born with a gifted voice, or the ability to just pick up an instrument and play. And then there are those that are born with massive calves. Don’t ya just hate those people? Ok, maybe hate is too strong a word, but I know I certainly envy those bodybuilders that rarely ever do a calf raise and yet display thickly developed muscle from knee to ankle. And there are plenty of those types out there too…the real kicker being that some of them might not be bodybuilders at all.

Failure to Prioritize

When the savvy lifter finds he/she has a weak muscle group they will make sure to train that area first on its scheduled day when physical and mental energy is at its highest point. However, I rarely, if ever, see this done with calves. You want your calves to grow? Then give them some special attention.

Failure to Stretch

One of the best ways to trigger muscle hypertrophy is by stretching them hard under the tension of resistance – and this is especially true when it comes to the calves! If you are not exaggerating, and briefly holding, the stretch on all sets of calf raises you are cheating yourself out of potential growth!

Failure to Vary Reps

Because we walk and climb with our calves on a daily basis they naturally develop great strength and endless endurance, which unfortunately makes them quite resistant to growth. So, in order to make sure and exhaust all of their muscle fibers, we must crush them with heavy sets for as little as 4 reps and lighter weights that will allow for 50 or more! Sticking to just one rep range is a big mistake.

Failure to Do the Work

Time and again I watch guys in the gym hit their chests, delts and arms with as many as 15-20 sets per workout, while their calves get maybe 4-6 lazy sets at the end of the session. Treat your calves as you do other muscle groups if you expect them to progress at a similar rate.

Failure to Intensify

As I mentioned, the calves are very resistant to adding muscle, which can even be the case for those who pay enough attention to them. So, if you are using the proper range of motion, training them first in your workout, and attacking with adequate sets and still not getting results them it is time to INTENSIFY. The calves need to be punished, so unleash on them with supersets, dropsets, rest-pause, negatives, giant sets, and whatever other torture you can think of. If you really want calves, you must show them no mercy!